Why in news?
If all goes according to plan, in September 2022, a NASA spacecraft, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART, will slam into a space rock with the equivalent energy of three tonnes of TNT.
Why is DART going to slam into a space rock?
- The goal is to nudge the orbit of its target object ever so slightly, a practice run to see if we could divert an asteroid from a catastrophic impact with our planet in the future.
- The impact on that asteroid could produce the first meteor shower ever to result from human activities in space.
- Observing the shower could let scientists on Earth study the composition of near-Earth asteroids.
Details of the Mission
- NASA plans to launch the 500 kg DART spacecraft in 2021. Its target is Didymos, a pair of near-Earth asteroids that travel around the Sun together. DART is aiming for the smaller of the two, named Didymoon, which measures about 535 ft across and orbits the larger asteroid.
- The force of the impact is expected to change Didymoon’s 11.92-hour orbit by about four minutes, a big enough change for telescopes on Earth to detect.
- If it succeeds, the mission might help confirm that humanity’s best defence against a rogue asteroid is to bump it into another orbit away from Earth.
-Source: Economic Times